It’s been rumored for several years – being able to book Fastpasses ahead of time like dining reservations – and it’s almost here.
Disney officially announced the new program today, which has been under some test trials since last May. There are still many, many questions to be answered, but at least we have some official details.
[FYI, this is part of the program that for a long time has been called “NextGen”]
Overall, the new program is called MyMagic+, and it advertised as a way to make the guest experience better overall. And there are three components.
It starts with a brand new web site (which went live last week for everyone) and a mobile app (already available for free for iOS and Android devices). My Disney Experience is where guests will be able to explore and set up itineraries for the visit. Specifically, through the web site, guests can:
- Get more information on all Walt Disney World Resort has to offer, from resort hotels and attractions to dining and merchandise.
- Design the overall experience they want, planning as much or as little as they wish.
- Make dining and other reservations and FastPass+ selections.
- Connect with family and friends to coordinate plans and share photos.
The big and most anticipated (or, in some cases, dreaded) part is FastPass+. This is, in essence, a way of getting a Fastpass for an attraction ahead of time, even before you arrive at WDW, for a particular time (with the usual 1 hour window). But not only for existing Fastpass attractions, but a number of additional attractions as well as other “experiences”, such as reserved parade and fireworks locations. From the press release:
Guests will be able to select FastPass+ attractions and entertainment experiences through My Disney Experience before they leave home and make changes on the go.
- For the first time, guests will be able to reserve firework and parade viewing areas, shows, Disney Character Greetings and more, in addition to their favorite attractions.
- For guests who don’t know where to start, Disney will recommend FastPicks – a set of three FastPass+ selections that serve as a starting point – and give guests the option to customize their selections.
- Disney FastPass+ service is included with Theme Park admission.
Lastly, there is MagicBand. These are the long-rumored RFID bracelets which will combine everything that the Key To The World card that resort guests receive (room key, room charge, Magic Your Way admission ticket and Dining Plan credits), but also adding the redemption of FastPass+ access (no more paper Fastpass tickets), and PhotoPass, all in one that you just swipe on the reader.
In addition, the MagicBand will enable personalized experiences such as being greeted by name by the various characters, or having their name appear in special areas. MagicBand will only be available to guests at selected Walt Disney World resorts to start, along with guests who purchase certain other products (we believe this will apply to Annual Passholders). Other guests will be able to use their standard tickets to access most of the MyMagic+ features.
MagicBands will be available in a variety of colors, and there may even be personalized designer versions available for a fee (based on earlier rumors).
Many other questions are still to be answered. Here are some of the things we believe might come to pass…just to give an idea of our certainty, I’ve tossed in percentages based on our confidence at the current time, based on facts, rumors, conjecture and analysis. But I wouldn’t place any bets based on them. And EVERYTHING is subject to change. 🙂
We do not know when this will go live, but we think it will be within three months. (70%)
Based on testing and other documents such as the Terms & Conditions page on the My Disney Experience website, the number of FastPass+ a guest may reserve in advance each day will be limited, and the number we are hearing most is 3, although WDW could vary that number on a variety of factors, such as crowd levels, and even have different limits at different parks to entice people to less-busy parks (90%). It could even be extended to a tiered system based on resort level, but we believe that is less likely. (<10%) [Update: this article had a video with the Vice President in charge of Next Generation technology, Nick Franklin, and he stats that they are currently planning three FastPass+ advance selections, potentially more at the parks, and NO difference between resort guests and non-resort guests – all will be treated equally in the end once it is fully in place.]
It appears pretty certain that you will only be able to get FastPass+ selections in advance at a single park per day. Sorry, park hopping planners. (95%)
You can only get one FP+ per attraction/experience that day. If you want to ride again, get in the standby line. (98%)
It also appears that attractions and experiences within the park will be tiered at two levels, similar to what was done for the Birthday/Give A Disney Day Fastpass reward cards, and you will be limited to a certain number from each tier – which means you might only be able to choose one of three or four headliner (“E-ticket” or “D-ticket”) attractions, and then the balance comes from other attractions you probably wouldn’t have used a regular Fastpass on. (85%)
What we don’t know is if you can get more FastPass+ selections while you are in the park. We do know that at least for a short time, the existing Fastpass system will still exist, but if you convert your admission media to utilize FastPass+, you CANNOT use Fastpass. And we expect Fastpass to go away once all resorts are active with MagicBand and they are prepared to convert all standard tickets to RFID-compatible media. Right now, it looks like it is three FastPass+ selections, and that’s it. (80%) We unfortunately believe this, plus other uncertainties may slow voluntary adoption. This would also further limit the desirability of park hopping.
We know that Magic Your Way ticket holders, at least with resort reservations that the tickets can be associated with, will be able to make FastPass+ selections 60 days from the day of use. There will be some way to associate tickets to reservations if obtained separately (we assume the same for Annual Passholders). (98%)
We don’t know how off-site guests with Magic Your Way and Annual Passes would make FastPass+ reservations, since they don’t have a resort reservation to determine when they would be at WDW. Complete unknown.
Any time before your first scheduled FastPass+ experience, you can change all of your experiences, even to another park. Once the first scheduled time arrives and expires, you are locked in to that park, but can reschedule future experiences at least. (95%) However, if you completely miss a scheduled experience (it “expires”), it is uncertain if you still can reschedule it. The wording in this regard is unclear. We believe from our interpretation it is lost, but others say you can still reschedule. (50%)
You will be able to use a smartphone (iOS/Apple or Android) to access your FastPass+ reservations via My Disney Experience. Wi-Fi will be enabled throughout the parks, although the reliability of it remains to be seen. If you do not have/do not wish to use a smartphone, kiosks will be available throughout the parks and at the resorts. (99%) Disney could potentially make devices available as well, possibly for a fee based on past tests for other purposes, but we don’t believe so (5%) We do know that if you won’t be using a smartphone, you better have a list of your experience times on hand so you don’t have to keep track of where all the kiosks are to keep checking…
There are a number of security and privacy concerns regarding the MagicBands. Given that they can be used for purchases, and RFID based, the first concern is for someone to use an “RFID skimmer” and then go on a spending spree. You would not be responsible for those purposes – IF you notice them. However, it might be difficult for someone to tell the difference between their own purchases and others when they are all in Disney. Disney does require a PIN code to be selected and used for any purchase over $50 (similar to most credit cards now) – but it does mean you need to be vigilant – or opt out completely and not use the room charge feature. It would be nice if Disney allowed an “always require PIN code” opt-in option. [Update 1/8: I’m hearing that today they started requiring a PIN on ALL purchases…]
There is also some concern about some personal information encoded on the MagicBand. Reportedly, your name – at least your first name – is encoded on the MagicBand to be readily available for personalized experiences. It is uncertain if you can opt-out of that feature.
Another concern is reports back in October that the MagicBands are also Wi-Fi transmitters, according to documents filed with the FCC, powered by a non-replaceable battery. Since most if not all of the advertised features involve RFID scanning at a very short range, we don’t see the need for something that outdoors can be received up to 100 yards, except for tracking purposes. Whether this is part of the end design or not we are not sure.
That’s about it for now. More when we have it. We are monitoring closely. 🙂
(Source: Disney press release)